I make an effort to eat salad for lunch every day, and fill my plate with healthy veggies at dinner – but if I’m being honest, the thing I look forward to most is dessert. Whether it’s rich, creamy chocolate or a brownie or cupcake, it’s like my brain is wired to crave sweets after every meal.
Enter a new study, that suggests I can convince myself to prefer something else (raw broccoli perhaps)?
The study, published in the journal Nature Neuroscience, shows that we can be brainwashed into having particular food preferences (think junk food marketing).
According to Science Magazine, researchers at the University of Texas asked study participants how much they would pay for 200 different snacks, then put them through a computer test that showed photos of the same foods. When certain foods popped up on the screen, a tune was played that encouraged the participant to hit a button as fast as they could.
After the test, the participants were asked to rate their preference for the foods again. The majority of the time, they chose the treats that were associated with the tune played during the test (even if they originally said they’d pay less for that particular treat).
"Cue-approach training increased attention to the cued items," the researchers wrote.
Now, if I can just cue myself to respond more quickly to broccoli than to chocolate, my desserts will get a lot healthier.
What do you think of this study? If you could brainwash yourself to like certain foods, would you do it?
-Katharine Watts, associate web editor